This article was originally published in The Charlotte Observer in Local News
The Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade drew an estimated 130,000 visitors to uptown last weekend, a 10 percent increase over last year, organizers said Thursday.
“Since moving to uptown in 2011, our festival and parade has continued to reach new heights and records,” Craig Hopkins, president of the Charlotte Pride Board of Directors, said in announcing this year’s estimated attendance.
“Initial attendee survey results, on-site sales and other data point to another record year for our largest annual fundraiser, which makes our year-round community programming and activities possible,” Hopkins said.
Final attendance figures for the city’s annual gay pride celebration will be estimated after Charlotte Pride, the local nonprofit organization that runs the events, completes its annual event attendee survey in several weeks.
Sunday’s Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade grew from 120 to at least 140 marching contingents this year and saw a nearly 1,000-person increase in marchers, for a total of 3,500. At least 60,000 people attended the parade, organizers estimated.
Charlotte Pride estimated that 120,000 visitors attended the weekend events in 2015, with about 50,000 spectators at last year’s parade.
“We were pleased to see several areas of positive growth,” Hopkins said of this year’s events. “It appeared there were a larger number of youth present, and the crowd appeared to be much more diverse.”
When Charlotte Pride moved its event to South Tryon Street in 2011, an estimated 27,000 visitors attended. In 2012, the event expanded to two days, attracting at least 45,000 visitors one week before the Democratic National Convention.
In 2013, the Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade was added to the event’s second-day, growing overall attendance to 80,000.
The event reached its milestone 100,000 attendance mark in 2014.
Last year’s event had a $11.9 million economic impact from out-of-town visitors, with $7.2 million in direct visitor spending supporting 114 full-time jobs and generating nearly $500,000 in county taxes, according to a study commissioned by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.